What are proteins?
After water our body is mostly composed of proteins. Indeed, proteins are the main component of cells and are essential to life. Proteins are often called “the building blocks of life”.
Proteins have complex structures: they are made up of many smaller units called amino acids. These are linked together in a chemical bond forming a long chain. Some of these amino acids are called ‘essential,’ meaning they are crucial for life but cannot be produced by the human body and must be gained through one’s diet.
There are many different types of proteins in the body. For example:
- Muscle mass is made of protein
- Collagen which provides strength and structure to tissues (e.g. cartilage)
- Skin, hair and nails which are mainly composed of proteins
- Hemoglobin which transports oxygen around the body
- Most hormones which act as your body’s chemical messengers are also proteins
- Enzymes which regulate all aspects of metabolism; they support important chemical reactions that allow you to digest food, generate energy to contract muscles, and regulate insulin production
- Antibodies which play a role in your immune response
The importance of protein for good health